tv [untitled] February 25, 2011 6:00pm-6:30pm PST
>> hello. welcome to "meet your district supervisor." we are here with supervisor farrell from district2, which includes the marina, pacific heights, st. cliff, and the neighborhoods surrounding the presidio. supervisor farrell started his first term this january, so he is new to the board. we will get to know him and talk about the toughest issues facing the city. welcome, supervisor. thank you for joining us. tell us about your background --
where you grew up, went to school, the kind of jobs you have worked. >> i am a born and raised san franciscan, first and foremost. very proud of that. i am also a born and raised district 2 residents. i grew up close to the palace of fine arts. my parents still live in the same set of flats i grew up in. i went to grammar school at stuart hall in district 2. i went to high school in st. ignatius. i'm a very proud wildcat. i went to college at loyola marymount college in los angeles. i had a scholarship to play baseball down there. ended up going to ireland and getting a master's degree at university college dublin. came back to the states and went to law school at the university of pennsylvania. spent three years in philadelphia. came back, and ever since coming back to the bay area, professionally, i have been a corporate attorney down at palo alto. i left after about three years
and became an investment banker here in san francisco at thomas was all partners. working the industry for about five and a half years. in the summer of 2009, joined a venture capital firm. i am happily married. my wife and i lived around laurel village in district 2. we have two small children. our goal is five and our boy is three. how parents and excited to be here on the board. >> why did you choose to live in san francisco? and tell us about what motivated your interest in politics. >> choosing to live in san francisco was natural, given that i was born and raised here. when you are a child, you do not understand what you have until you leave home. i have the fortunate opportunity to live in los angeles and abroad in ireland and in philadelphia. there is no place like home in san francisco is your home.
very natural and something was looking forward to in trying to find a job to come home to after law school. my job afforded me that opportunity, to come back to the bay area. so i'm lucky, and i will be here the rest of my life. in terms of getting into politics, for me, it was two reasons. first, being from here was part of my motivation. really feeling a sense of routes in san francisco, and also raising our children here. as a young family, we went through the discussion and dialogue that many young families go through in san francisco. "should we move to the suburbs? should we move elsewhere? san francisco is expensive to live. the public-school system has been difficult in the past." i think less about the quality of schools because we have great schools and grieg parental involvement, but more about the assignment process. where would my child go to school? a lot of family leaves, -- a lot
of families leave. we stuck around, but it was a turning point decision to say, all right, we are here from -- we're here for good. what can we do to make this place better? getting involved in politics was the fact that the seed was open for election for the first time in a long time. it was previously mayor newsom's seat and supervisor alioto- pier's seat. i did not get into politics because i had a lifelong ambition of being a politician. that is not me. i came from a private sector, and looking at honestly answering the question -- did i have something different to offer that i thought would be valuable to sanford's is go right now? i do think a large part of our problems in the city are financial, economic. with my background, i did think i would be able to add a lot of value, and that is why i decided to get into politics. >> where do you place yourself
on the political spectrum? >> i have to say, i'm one that has been trying to get away from the political spectrum dialogue in san francisco. i would just say, generically, i think i am in the middle. i'm a moderate person. nationally, i think we are a little bit left in san francisco, but i think i am a socially liberal person. that is what i tend to practice what i preach. >> what did you learn campaigning for supervisor, and was there anything that surprised you? >> that is a great question. i have never run for office before. i am new to the political world. for me, the learning curve was the best he could be. there were a lot of lessons to be learned in running a race in san francisco. a few that stick in my mind -- money does matter.
raising money. that is the simple, somewhat unfortunate fact of life. i think really having a message that resonates with voters, not just saying you want to be a politician, but you have to really explain why you, and i think that was really court to what we did. most importantly, the one thing i drew out of it was the hard work and other determination is the thing that will, i think, allow you to succeed more than anything else. i believe that the candidates who won this past november with the ones who worked the hardest in their races. >> what are the biggest issues facing san francisco? >> i believe the biggest ones are economic problems right now. we face was estimated to be a $400 million deficit this fiscal year. potentially growing next fiscal year. it all comes back to that in many ways. we have a growing pension and
retiree health care problem that is huge and looming and getting worse. as important, we have a huge unemployment rate here in san francisco. it is about 9.6% right now, and the fact that we have not done much about that in city hall i think is about to change. that is certainly something i will be focused on, putting people back to work. it is an individual issue, but it is a family issue, and we have a lot of families still struggling, and a think people have lost sight of that. hopefully, we will be getting out of this recession soon, but we need to do a lot in city hall to accelerate getting out of the recession, making sure families are back at work, making sure children are provided for. that is my biggest priority. >> talk about the issues facing your district specifically and how you are going to balance the issues facing the city at large against those in your district. >> we definitely have a few big projects for issues -- or issues
we're paying a lot of attention to and we will continue to devote a lot of attention to, both myself and my staff. one of biggest ones is the planned development of the new campus for california and pacific medical center. that has dominated a lot of city-wide dialogue in the past few years. that project is slated to go forward or get through the entitlement process this year in city hall. if you are not familiar, we currently have a california campus and a pacific campus, and the plan is to build a bigger campus and consolidate those services into one larger hospital at the old cathedral hill spa on van ness, and that is going to have a huge impact, both in terms of the neighborhood in district 2, not only the new campus, but what happens to the pacific and california campus.
also, is a huge job creator. we're making sure to do it in a way to we have every constituent buy into the project, create a ton of new jobs, and move forward with a health care system that benefits all of us. otherwise, some of the other issues coming up -- francisco reservoir in russian hill is going to be an issue that comes up. we have a huge project on doyle drive that is getting finished in the next couple of years. we need to make sure we wanted to the impacts. it is going to be a big deal. after leaving here, i am going down there with the mayor and the head of our department of transportation to really make sure we understand exactly what is happening at this point in time in the project. that is just a smattering of some of the issues, but they are very important, and a plan to spend a lot of my time -- and these are the neighborhoods i grew up in, so, for me, it is fun to be in these neighborhoods
to see what is going on and influence some of the thinking of some of the people making these decisions. i think we do lose a lot of sight. in the past, district supervisor's have lost sight of the fact that we do represent sanford cisco as a whole, and we need to major in city hall that we are acting policies, laws, and legislation that will of the city forward as a whole. there are a lot of issues like that. i mentioned job creation, pensions. a lot of them are economic, but some of them are more than that, making sure we continue to have dialogue with the 49ers. that is something that is not necessarily economic but something that matters to the city as a whole. it is a big part of what i look forward to doing in city hall. >> what are the specific thoughts you have on how the city can deal with budget issues? >> i think of two things. i'm not one the things that we can raise revenue and that is going to solve out of our
problems -- i'm not one who thinks that we can raise revenue, and that will solve all our problems. we need to look at what we do as a city and was services we offer. we have 26,000 city employees. our payroll and fringe benefits for city employees accounts for over 60% of our budget. if we are not willing to look at that issue, i do not think we are going to solve -- i know we will not solve our long-term financial issues. that, to me, is the biggest deal. second, it is about job creation. jobs are not just putting people back to work, which i think is the highest priority, but it is all the ancillary benefits we received, whether it be payroll taxes, an increase in property taxes. people who live and work in san francisco also shop at local restaurants, so shop at the local retail stores. it is a huge economic impact in san francisco. in my opinion, it is getting our costs under control but also
promoting economic development so we have a financial engine that will continue to promote us year after year. >> what are your ideas on dealing with the issue of homelessness in san francisco? >> i am one that thinks mayor newsom did a great job thinking proactively about what we need to do in san francisco. when he started care not cash -- but enacted so many things past that. project award down, when he ended up making sure there were family members on the receiving end, giving people bus tickets to go back home to where they are from -- project homeward bound. unfortunately, the project does not have a silver bullet ending. we deal with our homeless problem, and a lot of it, we need to make sure that the homeless population -- a lot of them have mental health issues where it is just not solvable to lock them up.
we need to help them, and i think we have that in our heart and soul to make sure that we treat the people as much as possible. at the same time, our biggest issue is that we have a continued influx of people in san francisco, so the more people we help, the more people come in, so it is a rotating system right now, and i think we need to continue to address the issue, spend a lot of financial resources on the issue, but again, i think it is something we will have to grapple with. but what is the long term solution here? we continue to attract more and more people in san francisco. again, i do not know what a silver bullet is to that, but i acknowledge it is a huge priority, a huge issue that affects everyone in the city. in our neighborhoods, the homeless people themselves, of course, and also the tourism industry, which we rely on so much, so i think it is a big issue and something we all need to focus on.
>> what about the city's housing needs? what you think the board of supervisors should do to really address housing? >> again, a huge issue here in san francisco. we live in a very expensive place. housing is one of the biggest components of that. i'm not one the things we should be interfering with private markets sales and so forth. i think that should be left to its own devices. again, we are in an expensive city. however, what we can do at the board is in sure that we promote and provide for both affordable and middle-class housing in the city. i think it is so important that we maintain our diversity in san francisco and who we are as a people and we really stay true to those values. the large part, insuring something that we want to focus on and i want to focus on, making sure that there are housing opportunities for our first responders to be here in san francisco and living here, police officers, firefighters, sheriffs, teachers -- people
that provide such essential services for our community, to make sure they have opportunities in san francisco to buy homes, set up groups as a family and really be integrated into our neighborhoods. to me, that is what we should be doing and, again, something we should be doing. >> let's talk again about transportation in your district. is there adequate service? let's talk about parking and traffic. tell us a little bit about district 2. >> district 2 definitely relies on muni quite a bit, though perhaps not as much as other districts, but it is so important for a number of people, for a community perspective to and from work. the mainline, stockton and the marina. the one california is a major bust the comes through the district, and a few other lines, of course, on the borders of our district. it is a huge deal for us, and we
need to make sure we continue to provide a great service. we are transit first here, and people embrace that, but we need to make sure we have a reliable, robust public transportation system, so it is a big deal. we do have a lot of people in the district that drive cars, a lot of people that have families. i'm one of those as well. i take it was once in awhile, but frankly, the way we have arranged in our family is i spend my morning with my children, and time allowing, i take them to school in the morning, so i drive them with my car. i do not believe the way to achieve our goals is to make parking so inconvenient, so expensive, such a bad experience that people, so to speak, capitulate and take public transportation. that is not the way we are going to make it happen. we need to innovate, in my opinion, our public transportation system. we are doing things like the bus
rapid transit systems, things like being allowed to pay for your public transportation -- we now have the clipper card. let's talk about putting that on your mobile phone and using that. innovating in ways were people say that public transportation is a great way to go. that is the way to achieve true innovation, not through making it so inconvenient for people to drive. i think it is a fact of life. young families are going to use their vehicles. we need to do a lot in san francisco to encourage young people and young families to stay in san francisco. i think we are missing out on a lot of our diversity when young families leave our city. we need to do all we can to be mindful of the needs of young families in the city. we mentioned housing. schools are a big deal. but also being able to be flexible with transportation and children. >> what is happening with crime in your district?
give me your thoughts on how you think the police are doing with respect to crime in your district? >> i think we are very fortunate in district two. we have a number of great police captains that oversee the stations that touched district two. richmond and northern are the two major police stations that touched the district. we do have a lot of crime in district 2. both crimes against individuals but also against merchants along our merchant corridors. chestnut. union in particular has been hit. fillmore and sacramento. it is a big deal. we also have the break-ins. we need to be very mindful that people keep their iphones and laptops out of sight. but it is a big deal. one of the things i talk a lot about on the campaign, making sure that we do fund our public
safety departments. we have to make some tough decisions this year, but to me, one of the biggest priorities is making sure that we have our police and firefighters and sheriffs' offices and their budgets fully funded so that we can ensure that public safety does not lag during these budget times. again, in district 2, i do not think it is talked about as much. we are fortunate that we do not have a lot of homicides. we do not have a lot of those types of serious crimes. but the crimes that to happen to matter to the people in district two. so as a local supervisor, it is incumbent upon me, and i take it very seriously to pay attention and make sure we engage with the police and fire department said they are aware of exactly what is happening, but again, i have to tell you that i think we are very lucky with the police infrastructure we have an firefighter infrastructure we have and the officers and
firefighters we have on the ground. we are very lucky. >> you mentioned that you are a former athlete. talk to me about the role of sports in the city's economic future, from the 49ers to the america's cup. talk to me about sports in san francisco. >> i was fortunate growing up. i was one that had season tickets to season49ers -- season tickets to the 49ers from what i was 8 years old. one part is economic, which i'll get to in the second, but the other part that is missing is what it does for the city of san francisco to bring us together as a community, as a city. what happened when the 49ers won those super bowls year after year? that was a huge deal for our city and our community in san francisco. what happened with the world series this year when the giants won for the first time in over
50 years? incredible. everybody was celebrating. and that is a huge deal for our community in san francisco, but i think, economically, not only jobs in terms of construction of stadiums and what have you. economically, you know, for those people who do not believe or do not really fully appreciate what type of economic drivers the sporting events and teams are, go down to soma during a giants game. come to the marina when the blue angels fly in town. what it does to the local streets and bridges. come to district 3 and district two and districts 6 and 10 when the america's cup comes to town and see what type of influx of economic activity these events drive to us. i think that is something that is not talk about enough. both the community aspect, the intangible fact of who we are as san francisco, coming together around sports teams, that is an
incredible opportunity, but then, the economic drivers in our neighborhoods is very real, and i think something that we are lucky right now, certainly in district 2. we have the blue angels every year, but the america's cup will become a large economic boom, and we need to pay attention to how much that benefits us as a city. >> it looks like we are just about out of time, and it sounds like there is a lot happening in city hall today, so we are going to wrap this up. >> there is. >> always. are there any other issues or things you would like to share briefly with respect to your new position as supervisor, or thoughts you have about san francisco before we wrap up our conversation? >> i touched on it earlier. for me, personally, especially coming from my background outside of city government, i knew my role on all the economic
activity in san francisco, focusing on jobs, but also, a lot of quality of life issues. young families, what is like to live here as a san francisco, and what we can do in city hall to make life better for san francisco residents. to me, that is a huge deal. i think we have lost focus on that in city hall over the past few years. it is something i want to focus on. to me, it is a huge priority, why i did this. i will be very true what i talk about on the campaign trail. representing a. 2, but also the city -- representing a district 2, but also the city and county of san francisco. it is such an honor and unique experience, and of just having a great time and look forward to making a big difference in city hall. >> great. we have been talking to supervisor farrell from district 2.
there are so many ways that the internet provides real access to real people and resources and that's what we're try to go accomplish. >> i was interested in technology like video production. it's interesting, you get to create your own work and it reflects what you feel about saying things so it gives perspective on issues. >> we work really hard to develop very in depth content, but if they don't have a venue, they do not have a way to show us, then this work is only staying here inside and nobody knows the brilliance and the amazing work that the students are doing. >> the term has changed over time from a very basic who has a computer and who doesn't have a computer to now who has access to the internet, especially high speed internet, as well as the skills and the knowledge to use those tools
effectively. . >> the city is charged with coming up with digital inclusion. the department of telecommunications put together a 15 member san francisco tech connect task force. we want the digital inclusion program to make sure we address the needs of underserved vulnerable communities, not communities that are already very tech savvy. we are here to provide a, b and c to the seniors. a stands for access. b stands for basic skills and c stands for content. and unless we have all three, the monolingual chinese seniors are never going to be able to use the computer or the internet. >> a lot of the barrier is knowledge. people don't know that these computers are available to them, plus they don't know what is useful. >> there are so many businesses in the bay area that are constantly retiring their computer equipment that's perfectly good for home use.
computers and internet access are helping everybody in the community and people who don't have it can come to us to help with that. one of the biggest problems we see isn't whether people can get computers through programs like ours, but whether they can understand why they need a computer. really the biggest issue we are facing today is helping people understand the value of having a computer. >> immediately they would say can i afford a computer? i don't speak any english. how do i use it. then they will start to learn how to do email or how to go back to chinese newspaper to read all the chinese newspaper. >> a lot of the barrier still is around lack of knowledge or confusion or intimidation and not having people in their peer network who use computers in their lives. >> the important thing i learned from caminos was to improve myself personally. when i first came to caminos, i didn't know anything about
computers. the second thing is i have become -- i have made some great achievements as an individual in my family and in things of the world. >> it's a real issue of self-empowerment where new immigrant families are able to communicate with their families at home, able to receive news and information in their own home language, really become more and more connected with the world as well as connected even inside their local communities. >> if we value the diversity of our city and we value our diverse neighborhoods in the city, we need to ensure that they remain economically viable. equiping them and equiping residents in those areas with jobs that will enable them to stay in san francisco is critical to that. >> the important thing that i see here at caminos is it helps the low income community, it helps the women who wouldn't have this opportunity otherwise. >> the workers with more education in san francisco are more l